An op-ed piece in an Arab newspaper labels Nashville, Tenn., as a city of hate.
The article in Arab News, an English-language newspaper published in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Saudi Arabia, carries a headline “From Nashville With Hate!” It is written by Hussein Shobokshi, a political writer, TV host and commentator.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
The article attributes a “growing Islamophobia” in America in large part to “strong anti-Muslim rhetoric coming from the evangelical Christian leaders.”
Citing anti-Muslim statements by preachers Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jerry Vines and Franklin Graham, the piece notes that groups teaching that Islam is evil and wicked “are based in Nashville, Tennessee, a city that has become to evangelists what Rome is to Catholics.”
Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., is a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is based in Nashville. Falwell has long attended SBC annual meetings and a few years back led his church in Lynchburg, Va., to affiliate with the denomination.
Shobokshi criticizes the Bush administration for continuing to support “bigoted religious fundamentalists who are undermining the secular character of America, subverting the peaceful message of Christianity and polluting the socio-cultural environment of America.”
The article speculates that a hidden agenda of President Bush’s faith-based initiative might be to strengthen the influence of religious leaders in running the government.
“Hate mongering is exceptional in the Christian communities of America,” the article charges.
“Most other Protestant groups and Catholics in general have gone way beyond the call of duty to befriend, support, protect and comfort American Muslims in their hour of need, and most Christian groups opposed the war against Iraq as unjust and have condemned anti-Muslim bigotry.”
Saudi Arabia, the article says, recently fired zealot imams for giving hateful sermons in mosques.
“Is it not possible for America to do the same with these fundamentalist Christian preachers of terror?” it asks. “The world would be better off.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.